Believe Women

This article discusses domestic assault and violence which some may find triggering and disturbing. Please read with caution.

In matters of domestic abuse and violence, the burden of proof falls on the victim. Most times (not all), the victim being a woman adds another layer of power dynamics at work. This dynamic manifests when the time comes to report and often places the victim at fault. We saw this scenario play out for the late rapper’s ex-girlfriend when she outed him as her abuser. XXXTentacion’s charges were not limited to aggravated battery of a pregnant victim, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, and witness tampering. Fans and stans of his music swiftly fled to his defense online and harassed her in person. The influx of hate she received evolved into a monster so great, she became a prisoner in her own home.

XXXTentacion threatened her from jail, telling her to recant her accusations. Out of fear, she did and this only exacerbated the droves of fans spewing toxic drivel towards her. This case, along with other high profile cases, broadcasts the ugliness and ignorance people carry in regards to abuse. Equally important, we must acknowledge the intersection of race and its role in domestic violence and abuse. In this case and others, Black people and people of color hastily reject that there be any truth to the accusations. Yet, it is painfully ironic that these same people lack faith in our judicial system in almost all other regards. So, what is the truth?

If it walks like an abuser and talks like an abuser…

A recording surfaced last night, reported by Pitchfork, of XXXTentacion admitting to physically harming his ex-girlfriend and stabbing multiple people. Prior to this release and his death, Miami New Times ran an evocative profile of the late rapper and his legal woes. Journalist, Tarpley Hitt (@TarpleyHitt) wrote this piece gleaning accounts and information both from him and his ex-girlfriend. Fans again continued to hurl incendiary comments at his ex and at Hitt for speaking the truth. The information contained in this audio recording and in Hitt’s profile is profoundly alarming.

Let’s pan out to the larger picture, though. The entertainment industry does a poor job of denouncing these acts. We continue to see how ingrained these behaviors are in establishing careers and protecting their power. I ask that you imagine the immense difficulty regular people face when experiencing and reporting abuse.

This disturbing status quo must be broken and victims must be supported and protected. Recently, Vic Mensa became the target of misdirected anger when “dissing” XXXTentacion during the BET Hip Hop Awards.

“Cause only time you bear arms is in a wife beater, loser / Your favorite rapper’s a domestic abuser”

We see how fans and peers alike run to the defense of XXXTentacion under the guise of not disrespecting the dead. However, the late rapper’s recorded history of violence is the true nail in his own coffin. In other words, Mensa simply called a spade, a spade while everyone else attempts to convince themselves otherwise. It’s quite comical to see the hill on which many people die in this matter while still behooving victims to immediately report the crimes against them.

Check yourself

#MeToo, created by Tarana Burke, amplifies the voices of victims and equally has abusers and their apologists afraid to make a move. They should be. Holding these people accountable for their vile acts is slowly transforming into the new status quo. So, I ask again, what is the truth? Do we ingenuously care about victims of domestic abuse and violence? Does this fervor only apply when it isn’t our “faves” or people we know personally? If these questions cause some discomfort, I believe that is the start of your answer.